Workplace Age Discrimination

workplace age discriminationLabor law and workplace age discrimination. You have worked for your employer for some time, and you are starting to notice a disturbing trend. Younger employees seem to be passing you by at an alarming rate. Are these colleagues outperforming you, or are you experiencing workplace age discrimination? If you suspect ageism is at the root of the issue, it may be worthwhile to consult an employment attorney for advice.

What is Workplace Age Discrimination?

When individuals who are 40 and older experience roadblocks in the workplace and age is a primary factor, it is age discrimination. Federal law addresses the issue through the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Under ADEA, making age a factor in employment decisions with regard to hiring and firing, promotions and assignments, and compensation and perks is unlawful. In addition to the ADEA, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) support fair practices for aging workers and potential workers.

Workplace Age Discrimination Complaints on the Rise

If you suspect workplace age discrimination is holding you back, you are not alone. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (USEEOC), the number of workplace age discrimination complaints in this country has grown from 19.8%in 1997 to 22.8% of all discrimination complaints. Nearly 21,000 such complaints were filed last year.

Whether or not complaints have been filed, older Americans report that age discrimination is alive and well in America. In fact, nearly 70% of workers aged 45-75 note that they have either seen or personally experienced the problem. Astonishingly, age is cited as one of the biggest obstacle to workers over the age of 35, particularly in high tech industries. The most common form of age discrimination, in fact, is related to not getting hired in the first place.

What We Know About Older Workers:

Research confirms several key points about older workers and what they need and want from their jobs:

  • Most older Americans are working for economic reasons. They need a salary, or benefits, or both;
  • Many older Americans are simply working because they enjoy it, and some are working on building up a nest egg for the future;
  • Older workers want respect;
  • These workers wish to be in a position that utilizes their particular talents and abilities.
  • Older workers report being significantly more engaged in their work than their younger counterparts.

How do I Know if Workplace Age Discrimination is the Problem?

Proving age discrimination requires a significant burden of proof. Some things that may tip your employer’s hand include:

  • Younger workers are being hired to replace fired older workers;
  • You are assigned unenviable tasks in an attempt to get you to leave voluntarily;
  • Your boss informally chats you up and asks when you are planning on moving on to greener pastures;
  • After receiving glowing performance reviews for some time, you suddenly see your reviews take a significant dip. It looks like someone’s building a case to let you go;
  • Everyone around you seems to be getting raises, but your pay is stagnant, despite equivalent job performance.

[Read more…]

Workplace Discrimination Based on Mental and Emotional Conditions

Workplace DiscriminationWorkplace discrimination. For an employee with a mental or emotional disability, navigating the demands of the workplace can be especially perplexing.  Unlike physical disabilities, which are often visible, mental challenges are visible only through the behaviors of the afflicted individual. Sometimes these behaviors carry with them social stigma and fear, which can actually exacerbate the underlying problems.

Employers may not wish to deal with the challenges of mental or emotional disabilities, but the law does not give them that choice. If you suffer from a diagnosed disability, you are entitled to workplace accommodations to give you every opportunity for success in the workplace. Absent those accommodations, a good employment law attorney may be necessary.

Common Mental Health Impairments and Workplace Discrimination

  • Bipolar disorder: Over 6 million individuals suffer from this disorder, which is characterized by shifting moods and energy.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): 4-5%t of adults in this country suffer the instability in behavior, self-image and moods, impacting many aspects of the person’s life.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Over 2 million Americans experience compulsions regularly that interfere with life functions;
  • Panic Disorder: 6 million people in the US have anxieties resulting recurrent panic attacks.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Nearly 8 million Americans experience decreased function and excessive emotions due to this disorder.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Millions suffer recurrent depression, generally associated with winter weather.

Workplace Discrimination Legal Protections

Mental disabilities, including psychological conditions, cognitive disabilities, emotional and mental illnesses, and mental conditions are all protected under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. This law provides even broader protections than those afforded by the Federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and were designed to prevent discrimination based on an individual’s history of mental illness. Conditions limiting major life activities (as opposed to the ADA’s substantial limitation requirement) are eligible for consideration.

What Does the Law Require of Employers?

Essentially, employers must accommodate these conditions to a reasonable degree in the workplace. That means assisting the employee to perform the most crucial aspects of the job.  Appropriate modifications in the workplace will depend on the mental condition being addressed, but might include:

  • Reducing distractions by providing sound absorption panels;
  • Providing full spectrum lighting or more natural lighting;
  • Providing flexible scheduling;
  • Providing memory aids or organizers;
  • Allowing support animals on the premises;
  • Providing a supportive mentor;
  • References to Employee Assistance Programs or counseling;
  • Reducing triggering stimuli;
  • Providing disability awareness training for coworkers;
  • Providing various forms of feedback.

Supervisors can accommodate employees by creating an inclusive culture that values all employees. Open communication, regular feedback, and clear written goals are always helpful.  Additionally, developing strategies to deal with conflicts and emotions may be essential in creating a positive work environment. [Read more…]

Strike! Legal Guidelines to Going on Strike

StrikeStrike! The rumblings in the workplace are growing. Employees feel dissatisfied on a many fronts, and negotiations with management are not going well. Now you hear fellow employees throwing around phrases like “job action,” and “going on strike”. You feel conflicted. Although you support your fellow employees and want to resolve the issues at hand, you worry about the ramifications of participating in a strike. What, exactly, are your rights?

Your Right to Strike

The National Labor Relations Act provides that employees have the right to “…engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”  Section 13 of the NLRA specifically calls out striking as a right guaranteed to union workers.  However, under certain circumstances a strike may be unlawful:

  • If the strike is called in support of a union unfair labor practice (such as attempting to force individuals to pay dues when they choose not to);
  • If the purpose of the strike is to attempt to force employers into actions that are normally outside the employee’s range of influence. An example would be if employees wanted their employer to boycott a particular brand or company. It is generally understood that employers have the right to make such decisions, with or without input from employees; but employees may not legally force their will onto employers through a strike;
  • When a no-strike contract exists between employers and workers, it must be adhered to unless it is related to unfair labor practices or unsafe working conditions;
  • Strikes timed to coincide with the end of a contract are not allowed.
  • Strikes that involve illegal misconduct (including blocking entryways, threatening violence, or attacking managers);
  • Picketing, striking, or otherwise organizing a refusal to work in any health care institution without at least 10 days’ written notice to both the institution and to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Will I Lose My Job if I Participate in a Legal Strike?

When union workers strike, they are striking for specific objectives which fall into two categories: economic issues and matters related to unfair labor practices. Those in the latter category have stronger rights related to job reinstatement.

Economic Strikers

When individuals go on strike in order to secure better working conditions, hours, or financial remuneration, they are referred to as “economic strikers”. Employers who replace these workers with bona fide permanent workers are not required to discharge the replacement workers when the strike ends. On the other hand, if the replacement workers are not equivalent to the previous workforce, strikers are entitled to be recalled to their previous jobs.

Unfair Labor Practice Strikers

Unfair labor practices relate to employers who in some way interfere with workers’ rights to unionize or to carry out union activities. This may involve discrimination, retaliation, or punitive measures in association with union activities. A striker in this category is entitled to their job at the conclusion of the strike, regardless of the classification of replacement workers. [Read more…]

Disclaimer

The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on www.californialaborandemploymentlaw.net or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.